The Omer is a 49-day period of self-reflection and daily counting which extends from the second night of Passover to Shavout – a period that represents the physical emancipation from Egypt through to spiritual emancipation with the receipt of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The Kabbalists explain that when the Israelites were in Egypt, they had fallen to the 49th Gate of Impurity – the lowest level before soul correction becomes impossible. The counting is a day-by-day analysis of various emotional attributes, giving us an opportunity to cleanse our impurity and refine our character. We count in days and weeks with each day and week being associated to the energy and attribute of one of the lower seven sephirot. Each week is represented by a specific emotional attribute and each day an aspect of that attribute. The Omer (with the exception of the 33rd day – Lag B’Omer) is considered a period of semi-mourning during which Jewish law forbids shaving, haircuts, weddings, dancing and other celebrations. The reason for this is to commemorate the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva that died from a plague during the Omer – believed to be a sign of anger from G-d over the student’s lack of human dignity and respect towards each other. The step-by-step character refinement achieved by the daily counting purifies and prepares us to receive the full Light and blessing of the Torah received on the 50th day – Shavuot.